Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hormones and headaches

While there are many benefits of female sex hormones, headaches is not one of them. The sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone play a vital role in the menstrual cycle and are also known to affect chemicals in the brain, which are responsible for headaches. Headaches tend to occur when the estrogen levels are low and disappear when estrogen levels are high. Thus, in women, headaches tend to be most common just at the end of the menstrual cycle and often last for a few days. Fortunately, these headaches can be treated by simple home remedies and pain medications. For women who feel a headache coming on just prior to the end of the menstrual cycle, it is important to apply a cold ice pack to the painful area or the neck. In most cases, 20 minutes of ice pack several times a day is soothing and often prevents the headache from getting worse. In addition, one should remain in a calm comforting environment away from the home traffic. At work one may apply a small ice pack to the back of the neck while working to prevent the ice pack from wetting the clothes, insert it inside a plastic back.

Another great way to ease the headache of menstrual ;pain is deep massage. You may get someone to massage your neck and head for you and relieve the tension in the muscles. There are many types of massage devices on the market but the majority are not recommended. These devices are difficult to use, are inflexible and often cannot masses the small areas of the body.

Unlike migraines the headaches associated with the menstrual period can be managed by non steroidal anti inflammatory medications like Aleve, Motrin or aspirin. In rare cases, a prescription strength pain pill maybe required to abort the headaches.

In most women, the above self care methods can help cure the headache associated with menstrual periods , but if the headache persist and become more frequent, it is important to see you health provider. If you menstrual cycle is regular and predicable, then one can take the medications a few days ahead and prevent the headaches. If your headaches and menstrual cycle are both irregular, then you may need to take a pain pill everyday.

Birth control pills and headaches

A number of women complain of headaches when they first start to take the birth control pill. In others, the headaches may change in intensity and/or frequency. Why this happens is not exactly known but is quite common. For women who use the birth control pill and suffer from headaches there are a few helpful hints:

- if the headaches are severe and affect lifestyle, you may need to see your health provider. Do not discontinue the pill otherwise you may get pregnant which may be a bigger headache than what you wished for. Let the doctor decide what is ideal for you and also offer you another form of birth control.

- In some cases, changing to a different brand of pills does resolve the problem. However, this is a case of trial and error and you may end up wasting a lot of money.

- One of the best ways to eliminate headaches induced by the pill is to buy a brand which has very few placebo pills. By eliminating the inactive pill, some women notice a marked improvement in their headaches.

- Another option is to apply a skin patch containing estrogen only during the last week of the cycle. So now, you will be receiving some estrogen in the body which will decrease the headaches.

- Some women may respond to a progestin only birth control pill. Unfortunately, the results with these pills are variable.

- The final option is to stop the pill and use another form of birth control.

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